Arizona Capitol

Former Ducey Appointee's Son Stands to Gain From Bill to Spend $750K on App

Steven Hsieh
Steve Moak Jr. listens in during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.
Steve Moak Jr., the son of former Governor Doug Ducey appointee Debbie Moak, founded a company that developed an app to help drug-treatment patients communicate with their counselors remotely.

Now, Moak’s company, True Mobile Health, stands to benefit from a bill making its way through the Arizona Legislature that would appropriate tens of thousands of dollars for “purchasing and supporting a patient-engagement mobile application system.”

Sponsored by Senator Kate Brophy McGee, Senate Bill 1532 would give $750,000 to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment Center System (AHCCCS), the state’s Medicaid program, for the app. Another unrelated $750,000 appropriation would go to Yavapai County for pretrial intervention programs.

click to enlarge Debbie Moak also attended the hearing. - STEVEN HSIEH
Debbie Moak also attended the hearing.
Steven Hsieh
AHCCCS would in turn distribute at least some of those funds to an app developer that would run a program for pretrial diversion drug patients.

The bill does not specify an app developer, and lawmakers said AHCCCS would go through a procurement process to find a contractor. But during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, only one company’s name came up.

"True Mobile App would be paid under this,” said Jeff Taylor, a former drug addict serving as a lobbyist for Moak’s company.

Moak Jr.’s mother is the former head of Ducey's Office of Youth, Faith, and Family. Debbie Moak, who was present at the Wednesday committee meeting, resigned suddenly in 2017. Not long after, Phoenix New Times revealed that the Office of Youth, Faith, and Family awarded a $600,000 grant to a nonprofit she founded at the same time she we was serving as the agency's director.

Steve Moak Sr., meanwhile, is a prominent Republican donor. He gave $5,000 to Ducey in 2017, as well as another $10,000 to the governor's victory fund. He donated $500 to Brophy McGee, the sponsor of SB 1532.

Brophy McGee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

click to enlarge A screen grab from the True Mobile Health app - TRUE MOBILE HEALTH / APPLE STORE
A screen grab from the True Mobile Health app
True Mobile Health / Apple Store
Approached in the Capitol on Wednesday, Steve Moak Jr. declined to say whether he or anyone associated with True Mobile Health approached Brophy McGee about sponsoring the bill. He denied that his company was a shoo-in for the contract, should the bill pass.

"There are quite a few competitors including actual organizations in Arizona," Moak Jr. said. "We’re just one of many who would go through the RFP process."

Moak Jr. declined to name any of his competitors. No other companies had representatives speaking in favor of the bill.

Under the bill, the patient-engagement app would be required to allow patients to send urine to a service provider for DNA testing and provide video-conferencing between service providers and patients. The app would also track the whereabouts of a patient.

Supporters of the bill say it would provide a much-needed service for addicts, making it easier for them to stick to their goals and stay out of prison.

Opponents of the bill, primarily Democrats, say they're unclear exactly how the money would be spent.

Democratic State Representative Kirsten Engel pointed out that the bill would release funds for "purchasing and supporting" an app, but True Mobile Health is already available on the Apple App Store for free.

"I am concerned that if we have $1.5 million here we are using it in a good way," Engel said.

The True Mobile Health app bills itself as a "personalized support program designed to help people in early recovery navigate the daily challenges of staying sober."